Interview by Mary Ouellette of theywillrockyou.com
Both Poison and Def Leppard are two bands from that era that can still successfully tour and play the bigger sheds, what inspired the collaboration?
Though we can both do it on our own, I?ve always been a fan of Def Leppard and Cheap Trick, so with three bands, it?s just that much better. I remember my first concert back when I was a 15 year old boy and it was Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Blackfoot, Brownsville Station, and about eight bands and cheap Trick was one of them. It was an outdoor summer festival package and I?ve always loved that environment. When we go out and headline on our own, we usually take 3 or 4 bands with us as well, it?s always about creating that festival environment and the best package for the band and Def Leppard and Poison are a natural fit to play together and you throw Cheap Trick in there and its one great show. How could one turn down that offer. What?s the saying..the parts divided are not as great as the sum (whole).
Any Poison fan is familiar with the word wars that went back and forth between Joe Elliot and Bret last year when Joe said that Poison wasn?t a band of substance. Since then Joe has stated that the comments were blown out of proportion. Can you give us the details on that? Do you really feel that he never meant any of those comments or are you willing to put them aside for the tour?
I don?t follow the press and what happens. I agree with what Joe says, whenever there?s ever anything said, it?s blown out of proportion. We?ve known the Def Leppard guys for a long time and we?re friends with them. I don?t personally know Joe that well besides meeting him a few times but I?ve hung out with Rick and C.C. is close to Phil, that stuff just gets blown way out of proportion in my opinion. Did Joe make a comment, yes Joe made a comment. Did Bret respond, yes Bret responded. The guys have since emailed each other and made up, so it?s all cool.
Can you give us some insight into the logistics of the tour ? Is it going to be a co-headlining tour? Will you have equal stage time?
It?s going to be Cheap Trick opening, Poison in the middle and Def Leppard closing. It?s not going to be exactly equal time, I think Cheap Trick will have 45-50 minutes, we?ll probably do 60 ? 70 minutes and Def Leppard will probably have 70-80 minutes but we?re not entirely sure yet.
Also joining you on this tour is Cheap Trick?who most of us grew up on, a lot of the bands from your genre call an influence, why do you think that Cheap trick hasn?t been inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
That?s a good question, I wasn?t aware that they weren?t and they absolutely should be. They?re one of the trend-setting, ground breaking most important bands from their genre. They?ve continued to stay together and be a very vital source in the entertainment business so they absolutely should be in the rock and roll hall of fame. Going back to the original question in a way, our first national tour was the Ratt/Poison tour and we went out on that tour with Cheap Trick for the first 2 or 3 weeks. We?ve been friends and have known Cheap trick for a long time and I?ve been wanting to get Cheap Trick to play with us and I?ve been wanting to play with Def Leppard for over twenty years so to answer the question, this is a dream come true for me. I love Def Leppard and I love Cheap Trick. Def Leppard?s first record was in 78 or 79 if I?m not mistaken, right around there, and that was when I was a teenager and Def Leppard was an influence as well as Cheap trick. Cheap Trick was a bigger influence but then as I got older and Def Leppard came out with Hysteria and Pyromania, those were some of the greatest records of all time and all of Cheap Trick?s records are great. I would say that both bands have influenced our style. It probably goes the opposite direction as well to some degree. I can?t speak for them but I don?t know many pop rock bands that aren?t influenced by Cheap Trick.
Speaking of which, do you think that, at some point, Poison will be acknowledged by the Hall for its contribution to your era. Are you, indeed, associated enough with your era and had a profound enough effect ? which is really what the Hall is supposed to be about ? to be inducted?
I don?t care. I don?t think about that stuff and I don?t care. I care about the fans and I care about what I do. There?s a lot of politics involved in who gets into the Hall of Fame and it?s like any Hall of Fame. Poison is a band that the critics have panned for since 1983 and here I am in 2009. We?re still a force to be reckoned with and all the critics are probably unemployed this year, so god bless them.
That leads perfectly into my next question ? Poison wasn?t the first band to wear eyeliner or teaser their hair, so your image wasn?t that far out of the box for the times, yet Poison has ALWAYS been the band that critics focused on ? how did it come about that you became the whipping boys for a whole genre of music ?
If you stick your head above the crowd then you?re in for a rock fight and we stand pretty tall. We?re from the genre of the 80s, and it?s like any genre, if you go back to the 80s and disco, the Bee Gees are still who you remember. There are probably a hundred bands out of that genre that have been completely forgotten. For our era, the bands that were able to march on were Poison, Def Leppard, GnR, Motley, so forth. We?re in the status and classification of those bands. For every person that loves you there are probably two that hate you. We have a lot of people that love us so we have a lot of enemies too?and they can all fuck off.
Generally speaking the band has been pretty adamant about not following any trends and not veering away from the Poison spirit?do you think that sticking with what you know and what you?re best at has contributed to your success?
Absolutely, we did what we wanted to do. We were influenced by bands in the seventies like Van Halen , Cheap Trick, on and on?all that music is what we grew up on as kids. Speaking for myself I can?t speak for every band member, we?re a power pop punk rock band. There is no classification for us, there really isn?t so if they want to call us a glam band, fine call us a glam band. We wore make-up, we still wear make-up, so what ? I have an endorsement from Maybelline ? kiss my ass.
In the past, you?ve attributed the lack of new Poison material to other band member?s side projects and Bret & CC not getting along well enough to write new material. Do you have a desire to write new Poison material or are you content with touring and playing the older material?
It?s varies and goes back and forth. There is a certain dysfunctionality internally of course, there always has been and there always probably will be. Would I like to make a new Poison record, yes I would. Will a new Poison record get made? I can?t answer that question, I don?t know. I honestly don?t know. Every year we try and think about it. We have put out different records, we recorded a new song for the greatest hits record and did a few other things. Aside from the dysfunction there?s a bit of unavailability as well, Bret?s very busy, as we all know. We can?t do what we don?t do, we can only do what we do do. Please print that. We can?t do what we can?t do we can only do what we do do. (Ed. note: Bobby, as you wish!)
Because of the other big personalities of the band, we don?t really know much about Bobby off stage, what kinds of things keep you going while you?re not on tour? Where are we likely to find you? Hobbies and passions?
I spend the rest of the year putting everything together. You?ll find me behind a computer screen, on the phone or behind my bass guitar, that?s where you?ll find me. In my home with my family and my children. I?m a very private person. I don?t seek the fame outside of Poison. Poison is what I always wanted to do and what I always wanted to be and it?s enough for me. I have two beautiful children, my son Zach who?s 18 my daughter Zoe who?s 12 and they?re more important to me than anything in the world and I spend as much time as I can with them. My kids are being raised as musicians and one day the world we?ll see what we?ve been up to.Don?t they go on tour with you too?
Yes both my children do, I take them out all summer.
Of the four members of the band, you seem to be the businessman of the bunch, would you agree with that assessment?
Yes. Everybody in the band is very smart but I?m the person who coordinates everything.
I?ve heard that each city that you roll into, you set up an office backstage to take care of business which is not something you hear about bands doing very often. How are you able to balance the two ? rockstar/business man?
I?m a good multitasker! Everybody in the band is very busy though. Look at Bret?s schedule. Rikki has a lot of hobbies, keeping up with him is hard..one day he?s building a rocket the next day he?s starting a drum colony. We?ve been doing this a long time, this year we?ll be out there playing a 70 minute show, there?s still 23 hours left in the day and I balance how much time I work and how much time I spend with my family. I?m a family guy and I?m a business man, that?s what I do. There is a difference. It?s not the glamorous side of the industry and there?s no need for it to be put in the forefront and that?s why I stay more behind the scenes and take care of business. Tune into Rock of Love if you?re looking for something different.
Speaking of Rock of Love, what are your honest thoughts on the show as a whole? We?ve never seen the members of Poison on the show in any capacity, it focuses more on Bret?s solo career so what are your feelings towards it?
I like the show. I think it?s funny and entertaining and it is what it is. I know Bret personally and I know his life personally so I see both sides of the show and the reality of who Bret is and what the show is about. My opinion is somewhat distorted and would not be fair because I know too much about everything. Let the fans enjoy the show for what the show is, reality TV is reality TV. I personally like it because I think it?s funny and I think it?s good for him and the band and God bless?em. He has a very hard work ethic and likes to burn the candle at both ends. There?s a separation between that and Poison that needs to be there because otherwise it would become a conflict of interest. If the fans want Poison more involved they need to speak up.
But I can?t really picture you doing a show like that?
I wouldn?t do a reality show because they?re not real. If you want me to do a reality show it wouldn?t be on cable TV, so if HBO is interested, give me a call.
I was thinking back to how things have changed in the industry since Poison?s inception until now and remembered how when Open Up and Say Ahh first came out, there was a lot of drama about the tongue on the album art (and it was even banned in some places) and how funny that seemed now. What do you see as some of the biggest changes to the industry since your earlier days?
The biggest change would be the internet. The internet has absolutely changed the industry and those new bands out there that haven?t adapted are in trouble. For older bands with an established base, let?s use KISS as an example, their farewell tour that went on for four years ?once you become an icon you remain an icon and become bigger and bigger every year. The Rolling Stones are the biggest rock band on earth and they happen to be my favorite band as well.
On your Glam Slam Metal Jam tour a few years back you suffered a back injury that ended the rest of the tour and sent you by ambulance to the hospital where you underwent emergency surgery. What was going through your head at that time? We?re you cognisant of the severity of the injury?
I didn?t think about my career, I thought about my children. My career has been successful and it takes care of itself, it?s not the most important thing in my life. The most important things are my family and children. My injury actually occurred back in 1990 when I originally ruptured a herniated disc. The wear and tear of the following ten years took it?s toll. I went up on the riser in 2000 and I jumped from about eight feet down to the stage, and when I hit the stage the disc popped and broke, what was left of it anyway and the two vertebrae laid down on the nerves together. I basically was in a fetal position and couldn?t come out of it. It wasn?t really my career that I was thinking about at that moment, it was my family and my life. It was unfortunate that we had to cancel the last few weeks of that tour but there?s not much you can do. I was put in the hospital and the surgery had to be done. I knew one day I would have to have a fusion in my upper back/neck, but I didn?t want it to happen the way that it did happen but thank God I?m still here and capable of walking.
There seems to have been a bit of a resurgence in the genre with new annual events popping up around the country like Rocklahoma, what are your thoughts on events like that and does it surprise you to see teenagers or even younger kids at shows like that?
Our fans have always covered a broad range. In the beginning it was young kids for the most part. In 86 when we first started 13-18 was probably our target audience but as we?ve matured so has our audience. I?ll use the Rolling Stones as an example, I was sitting at one of their shows and I?m 30 something at the time and I?m sitting next to a 70 year old doctor. It?s his favorite band and it?s my favorite band. I?m talking to the doctor before the show and we?re having a conversation and the lights go out and all of a sudden I smell pot and the doctor is lighting up a doobie. All bands as they mature tend to cross generations and I think parents influence, kids go off to college and turn their friends on to music, and it goes from there. It?s always been like that for us. We?re starting to get the third generation now, which is not a bad place to be. It?s a family affair! Grandma or granddaughter I don?t care, brings them all!
I?m thinking about having my family reunion at the Poison show this summer..
Go for it. It?s a family reunion at every show for me!
In another 20 years?.what do you want Poison?s legacy to be, how do you want to be remembered?
I don?t know that we?re done yet so I don?t know that I should answer that question. I?m not the one to write the legacy I think the legacy writes itself. History will speak for itself. We?re one of the bands that survived the genre and the era and we have our place in rock and roll history and I think it will remain seated for a long time. Our first record was in 1926?I mean 1986 and here we are in 2009 so it?s been a long run and a good one!